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EXCLUSIVE / The European Commission’s new Circular Economy Package will include fresh legislation on waste, fertilisers, and water reuse, “strong commitments” on Eco-design, strategies for handling plastics and chemicals, and “major” funding for innovation, EurActiv has learnt.
Internal Commission documents seen by EurActiv revealed the bundle of rules and initiatives will include “targeted action” in food, construction, industrial and mining waste, and public procurement.
Policymakers believe that the shift to a circular economy, in which as little is wasted as possible, is necessary in a world with finite resources and a booming population.
The paper is not yet finalised, leaves out exact numbers for 2025 and 2030 targets, and is subject to change. It will require approval by the College of Commissioners before it is launched before the end of the year, most likely in December.
Landfill targets are mentioned twice in the document but are bracketed, which could signal doubt over their final inclusion in the package.
But the document does point to the likely direction of the executive’s thinking on how best to replace the package of waste, incineration, and recycling laws it axed in December last year.
The previous Barroso Commission had proposed its own circular economy package, which was pending when President Jean-Claude Juncker took over almost a year ago. It was controversially axed by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans as part of the executive’s drive for leaner law-making dubbed “better regulation”.
Timmermans promised the new package would be “more ambitious” and include the “full circle” of the circular economy. This was widely interpreted as a signal that the replacement package would have an increased focus on Eco-design standards for making products easier to recycle.
That is borne out by the internal document, which states that the European Commission will adopt an Eco-design plan for 2015-2017. This will focus on developing product requirements under the Eco-design directive.
The current Eco-design directive focuses only on energy efficiency. But in the future, the document states, resource efficiency issues such as reparability, durability, and recyclability will be examined.
To incentivise better product design, the Commission plans to alter the amounts of money producers pay towards the end of life treatment of their products. This will be done through Extended Producer Responsibility schemes that mandate producers to pay for the recycling of their products.
Revised legislation on waste
On waste, the draft package mentions “long-term” recycling targets for paper, glass, plastics, metal and wood packaging, which will reinforce municipal waste targets. A 2025 and 2030 target for recycling wood packaging is mentioned, but without a percentage. Action on landfill is also cited in the draft, but is bracketed.
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